Octavio Solis's Lydia at Yale Rep
Yale Rep is the kind of theater company that tries to push boundaries. They put on a lot of risky new work. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Sometimes it does.
Lydia, the latest play from Octavio Solis, works. It works as storytelling. It works as psychodrama, peeling back the layers of every character’s social (or antisocial) behavior to expose the beating heart within. It works as metaphor, exploring and exposing the nature of duality, as evidenced in everything and everyone we see. And it works as an evening of theater, showcasing the talents of a brilliant cast (all excellent, but especially Onahoua Rodriguez, who plays Ceci).
The playwright, in an interview, described himself as a happy man. Lydia is the product of a happy man’s comfort in exploring the darkest fantasies of human desire, apparently safe in his ability to separate fantasy from reality in his own mind—or at least adept at stepping through the wall that divides them.
Lydia is set in the border town of El Paso, in the 1970s. Border is the overarching conceit of the play—a literal border between countries, but also the border between yin and yang, between good and evil, between love and hate, between male and female, between life and death.
Maybe this is the play David Adjmi set out to write when he fell into the abyss of The Evildoers. The difference is that play did not work. Lydia does.
The writing and acting carry the Yale Rep production. The set and the staging were adequate but less imaginative and less precise than what we’ve become accustomed to from the company. The audience on Wednesday was on the thin side, with some season ticket holders not attending, and less than enthusiastic in their applause. Perhaps others were not as impressed as I was, or perhaps the emotions the play evoked in them left them drained and unable to respond. I don’t know. See the play and decide for yourself.